If we turned The Voice into a game where you drink every time a cliche is spoken, Monday’s episode would have had everyone pretty wasted. Perhaps now that we’re three rounds in, even generally verbose coaches Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton have run out of new things to say, and are now resorting to sweeping (and obvious) statements such as Blake’s “It’s go big or go home” (drink). Hopefully, they’re just saving their real wisdom for the Live Playoffs next week.
Cliches aside, the new Knockout Round has coaches quickly cutting their teams in half. Unlike the Battle Round, contestants pick their own jams, and perform an abbreviated portion of each against a fellow team member. Adam and Cee Lo’s teams were on display this particular evening, and the judges faced tough decisions. As Carson Daly put it “Tonight, the pressure is on” (drink).
Team Adam: Joselyn Rivera vs. Kayla Nevarez
Former team Xtina member Joselyn Rivera faces off against Kayla Nevarez in Adam’s first Knockout. Ambitious Joselyn chooses Beyonce’s “Love On Top.” Both Christina and Adam point out how challenging that song is, and give Joselyn props for her bravery. Kayla goes a little safer, with V V Brown’s “Shark In The Water.” Both ladies nail their performances, and though Kayla is soft-spoken offstage, she is as confident onstage as ever. Ultimately, Adam is impressed that Joselyn “really wants to swing for the fences” (drink), and he selects her to move on to the next round.
Team Adam: Joe Kirkland vs. Bryan Keith
Adam puts pop rockers Joe Kirkland and Bryan Keith against each other, saying “may the best man win” (drink). Joe throws everyone for a loop by picking Taylor Swift’s “Mean.” Adam thinks this choice is courageous, or as Ms. Swift would put it: Fearless. While charismatic, the edgy rendition of “Mean” doesn’t bring out anything vocally stunning. Bryan Keith, on the other hand, performs “Everything I Do (I Do It for You)” by Bryan Adams, which showcases his powerful voice at the highest end of his range. The Swift-hard in all of us wants Joe to win, but Bryan knocks out the Artist vs. Poet rocker.
Team Adam: Amanda Brown vs. Michelle Brooks-Thompson
Powerhouses Amanda Brown and Michelle Brooks-Thompson belt it out in the next knockout. Amanda performs Grace Potter And The Nocturnals‘ “Paris Ooh La La.” During rehearsals, Adam tells her, “Don’t over-rock it.” Her final performance certainly rocks, but at the appropriate level of rockage. “Bank employee” Michelle Brooks-Thompson performs Jennifer Hudson‘s “Spotlight.” Like Amanda’s performance, Michelle’s is technically flawless. Her high notes soar past Amanda’s, to the point where even Christina is taken aback — in a good way. Cee Lo, Christina and Blake all agree that Michelle excelled in this round, but Adam selects Amanda. Between this choice and Joselyn’s advancement, both of Adam’s steals make it to the Live Playoffs.
Team Adam: Loren Allred vs. Nicole Nelson
We gather from Carson’s recap of Loren Allred’s untelevised performances that she’s has a lot to prove to break out of her wedding singer mold. She performs Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good,” and ditches her perma-smile in time to deliver the soulful goods. Nicole Nelson, who has shed her “Hippie Nicole Nelson” moniker, belts out Alicia Keys number “If I Ain’t Got You.” While sweet, it doesn’t stand out, given the high expectations the judges have for her. Loren is, as Blake puts it, “the cream that rises to the top” (drink). Though Adam favored Nicole before the performance, he selects Loren. You just can’t fight it when, as Blake says, “a star is born” (drink).
Team Adam: Melanie Martinez vs. Sam James
Adam’s final two team members, Melanie Martinez and Sam James, have very different vocal styles. Melanie takes on the indie role, and Sam has a more classic rock voice. Melanie wears her signature Minnie Mouse Bow and performs an acoustic version of “Bulletproof” by La Roux (a la her Blind Audition Britney Spears “Toxic” performance). It seems like she’s going to put a jazzier spin on the song, but tones it down per coach Adam’s advice. The final result is…fine, but we’d like to hear her let loose as she had planned. Sam performs Marc Cohn’s “Walking In Memphis,” which he has trouble pronouncing (it comes out like Mem-fees, which Adam accurately notes sounds like a “really strange disease”). Sam’s vocals are solid, and he finally gets the pronunciation of the Tennessee city, but he doesn’t do anything that jumps out. Though neither performance wins the evening in our minds, Melanie wins this Knockout.
Team Cee Lo: Avery Wilson vs. Cody Belew
Cee Lo’s first Knockout of the evening puts our previously declared favorite, Avery Wilson, against country crooner Cody Belew. We suspect Cee Lo is trying to make an easy path for Avery, but The Voice results can be surprising. Cody makes the interesting choice of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” and Cee Lo notes it will take more than novelty to sway him. Unfortunately, it’s Avery’s mediocre performance that does the swaying. Oh, Avery. You have our love, and then you throw it away by singing Chris Brown. And not even well. Whether you’re a Chris Brown fan or hater, Avery’s performance of “Yeah 3X” is disappointing. Cee Lo chooses Cody, whose performance was, at the very least, better than Avery’s. As Avery leaves the stage, Cee Lo promises “I’ll take care of you.” Again, we wonder if any actual contact information was exchanged.
Team Cee Lo: MacKenzie Bourg vs. Daniel Rosa
Indie rocker MacKenzie Bourg goes up against second-timer Daniel Rosa. Just when it was out of our heads for five minutes, MacKenzie performs the hit of the summer, Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.” He puts a funky acoustic spin on it, has strong vocal control and is much more comfortable on stage with his guitar in this round than he was singing Owl City in the Battles. Daniel Rosa performs the second Taylor Swift song of the evening. He puts a lot of emotion into “Back To December,” but it’s a little too safe. Cee Lo notes “you are better than your performance today” before he selects MacKenzie. There are no tears when Daniel leaves the stage, and Cee Lo is proud that he “took it like a champion” (drink).
Team Cee Lo: Terisa Griffin vs. Trevin Hunte
Apparently, somewhere between Cee Lo’s steal of Terisa Griffin and the Knockouts, Trevin Hunt and Terisa developed a strong mother/son relationship. Their competing performance is therefore emotionally charged from the beginning. Trevin dedicates his performance of “Against All Odds” by Phil Collins to the eighth grade teacher who said he wasn’t going to make it in music (burn). Said teacher must be squirming, because the performance is awesome. Terisa, who is sporting a sparkly cast on her broken ankle, performs Whitney Houston’s “Saving All My Love For You.” Cee Lo emphasizes to her that “it’s do or die” (drink). Injury or not, Terisa does Whitney proud with her performance, and reduces Cee Lo to tears. Crying aside, Cee Lo chooses Trevin because he has the most potential. Cue up a tearful backstage goodbye between Trevin and “Mama T.”
Team Cee Lo: Nicholas David vs. Mycle Wastman
Bearded crooner Nicholas David goes up against soulful Mycle Wastman. Nicholas, who has picked up Cee Lo’s habit of wearing sunglasses indoors, chooses Corinne Bailey Rae’s “Put Your Records On.” He acknowledges that “this is either make it or break it” (drink), and his whimsical performance just puts smiles on our faces. Mycle plays it straight with a solid performance of Elton John‘s “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me.” Cee Lo connects more with the vibe Nicholas puts down, and advances him to the Live Playoffs.
Team Cee Lo: Caitlin Michele vs. Diego Val
In Cee Lo’s final Knockout, indie crooners Caitlin Michele and Diego Val face off. Caitlin selects Evanescence‘s “Bring Me to Life.” Though the choice fits her vocals well, her performance comes across as more of an impersonation than anything new. The always spirited Diego performs Lenny Kravitz’s “Are You Gonna Go My Way,” which is also just fine. Before selecting a winner, Cee Lo notes, “Neither one of you guys gave the greatest performance.” He selects Diego, therefore rounding out his all-male team. With that, Cee Lo asserts that “We are the team to beat” (drink).
Tonight promises to be filled with big performances and even bigger cliches. We’ve already heard Christina say “go big or go home” in the promos, so we can only imagine the worn-out phrases to follow. Also, The Voice Knockouts finish tonight. Bottoms up!